Mark 15:21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
First Christian Experience
According to John’s report, (John 19:17), we know that the Lord Jesus started out bearing his own cross. But evidently, the Roman guards didn’t think he was moving along fast enough. So they laid hold of a strong looking country boy, recently come from the “fields” (same word, “country”) to speed things along!
This “one Simon,” among the scores of other men in those days of that same name, had this to be his first experience with Christianity! His was not by invitation from another disciple, saying, “Come and see. Is not this the Christ?” Nor was his an invitation like the woman at the well, crying, “Come see a man who told me all that ever I did!” His “invitation” by ordained Providence was to be the rough hand of an aggravated Roman soldier, wanting to speed things along so he could get through with this death squad detail!
This, “one Simon” came to know the Lord through affliction! Psa. 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. But his was not just any affliction! His was to bear “his cross!” (Matt. 27:32, Mk. 15:21). It was not just “A cross!” Many hundreds were hung on crosses by these same Romans, but only THIS cross provided atonement from God!
Dear reader, every human being suffers reverses and disappointments in life, to some degree or other! But not all these are effectually provided in the realm of the atonement! One must be involved in the suffering of Christ’s cross; with Christ’s atonement, in order to benefit from afflictions! Gal. 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
The verse in Philippines that the Apostle Paul wrote seems so applicable to Simon’s situation. For Simon was literally “apprehended,” and followed “after Jesus!” Phil. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Who Passed By
Mark records that this “one Simon” was not involved in the events of that moment! He was actually prevented in continuing on his way by this “great company of people.” (Lk. 23:27). He was just one that was “passing by!”
But look at the company he was literally thrown into! Luke 23:32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
My goodness! He was probably just wanting to practice his religion, and attend the Passover at the temple in Jerusalem! But look who else was “led with him!” He was thrown into the company of two capital offenders about to forfeit their very lives for their high crimes against the Roman government! He was being “numbered with the transgressors!” He found himself to be among those with death sentences upon them. And he later realized himself to be “a child of wrath, even as others!” (Eph. 2:3).
But he was also Providentially thrown into the presence of the most glorious Son of God, in His most important hour! He here met the Lord Jesus! And this is where all believers meet him! For all those born of God are given to see the glory of God in that cross!
The Father’s eyes were on Him! The Father, like the High Priest, was examining this Lamb of God; peering into the “travail of his soul!” For there is where the “satisfaction” of God was provided, in order to provide an eternal cleansing for the entire church’s sin! (Isa. 53:11).
And looking into that face, more marred than any man’s, so that his form was more distorted that any of the sons of men, Simon was “astonished!” (Isa. 52:14). He that seeth the Son and believeth on him hath life! (John 6:40). Faded now were those images of hopeful supposition to fulfil his own plans! The alarm of his mind from being thrust into this event, of which he formally had no interest, was replaced by the awe of his heart in the very presence of God’s Lamb, actually under the burden of the cross that would be used to provide eternal redemption!
And read the words coming from the mouth of the Person of the Word Himself! Read of His words to the daughters of Jerusalem! (v.28). Listen as he warns them of judgment upon their “dry” souls, since this befell His, as the only green tree! (V.31). Hear what Simon heard from the very lips of God’s Lamb, in the actual moment of His life being given out in verse 34! What greater and more effectual words could one hear than the perfectly holy Son of God interceeding for those who were at that moment crucifying him? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!”
This had great effect upon Simon, as well as those who witnessed this event! Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
Simon “returned” to his plans a different man than what he was before this happened! Mark tells us in the above listed verse that his sons, Alexander and Rufus, were well know by the Christian community at the time of his writing the Book of Mark. They had a dad whose life had been changed forever by the cross he bore for Christ! O! That we had more dads in this generation known by their sons as a man who faithfully bore the cross of Christ! He had been himself crucified unto the world and the world crucified unto him! (Gal. 6:14). If we did, we would have mose sons like Rufus, chosen of the Lord, and precious!
Simon was from Cyrene. This is now Libya. It is on the northern part of Africa, west of Egypt. And what an influence Simon must have had on his countrymen, as the very man, selected by God to bear the impliment of Christ’s redemption!
Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
When the gospel began to be spread in that first century, the Jewish believers didn’t want to take it to the Gentiles. Remember Peter’s experience with the sheet let down from heaven at Joppa?
Well, not so with the Jewish believers of Cyrene! They even “spake to the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus!” But do not fail to notice just what even marks the time of thie extensive evangelism! It was yet another “persecution” time! For just as Simon was placed in the crucifixion of the Lord, so these of Cyrene were effected by the persecution that arose in those day concerning the stoning of Stephen!
His Mother and Mine
Rom. 16:13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. Here we read of those whom the Apostle Paul wanted to greet as he closed our the Book of Romans. And among them was Simon’s son, Rufus.
Rufus’ mother was Simon’s wife! And the Cyrenians had a great heart for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles! And just who was the Apostle to the Gentiles, but the great Apostle Paul? (Rom. 15:16). So we find that after another persecution, in which the Apostle was witness, as Saul of Tarsus, the country of Simon was placed into the same ministry as another great agent of the Holy Ghost!
And in some way, Simon’s wife was as a mother to the Apostle Paul! And Simon’s son, Rufus, was said by Paul to be a brother chosen, or precious, to the Lord! Therefore as the persecution and crufixion of the Lord, Simon was forced into the presence of the very Son of God, from the persecution of Stephen, Simon’s son and wife were made to be acquainted with the Apostle Paul.
Here we have the fulfilment of the Lord’s words as recorded in Mark 10:28-31. Mark 10:28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
And did you notice the underlined words, “with persecutions?” These new family members are provided in the realm of the sufferings of Christ. That is how we get to know Him, and to be added to them as our family from God. We all must be entered into the fellowship of His sufferings!
Phil. 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Pastor Gene Breed